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Making the escape from Dysfunction Junction

Yvonne Kramer was born on a Naval Base in San Diego, CA. Between her third and fifth birthdays she and her mother lived in Long Beach, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Costa Mesa, and Huntington Beach. When she was 5 years old, they wound up in Fresno and then settled in Madera.

Dysfunction Junction turned out to be her reality. She endured domestic violence, rape, childhood molestation, and physical/mental child abuse. Her mother beat her with her fists or whatever she could grab, and her father’s inappropriate behavior was something she just had to live with as she was growing up.

By the time she was 14 years old, Yvonne was grabbing at straws just to stay alive. She jumped from the frying pan into the fire when she married a drug addict who continued her life of abuse. She became a mother and for the next 12 years Yvonne followed a familiar pattern. She would leave her husband and taking her children with her, run away to her mother, who had moved to Oregon. This, of course, didn’t provide any permanent relief; in a very short time, she was right back with her abusive husband.

Life continued like this until Yvonne was 26 years old. Seven times she took her children to Oregon, and seven times she returned to a brutal, drug induced, existence with her husband. Finally, she could take it no more and filed for a divorce. Then she encountered a miracle in her life that transformed her from an abused woman into a person of abundant self-worth. She returned to Madera. She had four children; she was single, and she was happy.

Madera provided Yvonne with counseling for her children and for her, Adult Children of Alcoholics, AA meetings, adult education, and vocational tech training, which helped her land a job in the Madera Superior Court system.

She was working in the personnel department when she learned the County was recruiting for a permanent, full-time office assistant position in the Criminal Division. Yvonne was encouraged by her co-workers to apply for the job, and Judge Thomas Bender, with Jeanne Turpennen, interviewed her. Afterward, the Judge and Jeanne were very encouraging, advising her that she needed to brag more about what she had to offer. Judge Wayne trained her in the traffic division at Chowchilla Court. Soon everyone was aware of her work and her pleasant personality. She became known as the one and only “crack pot” of the Criminal Division. She loved working with people, sharing her skills sense of humor with everyone.

On her first day of training with Judge Wayne, she had to ask a witness to raise her right hand and state her full name and the spelling of her last name. Judge Wayne leaned over and whispered the proper wording: “Raise your right hand, state your full name and the spelling of your last name for the record.” Yvonne responded by raising her own hand, stating her full name etc. The entire courtroom began laughing out loud, including Judge Wayne. She got even more popular after that.

Later, Judge Moffat trained Yvonne in family law and criminal procedures. Her time with the Superior Court was a memorable experience. Learning how important she was and having a new way of life conditioned her outlook in general. Staff Attorney, Earl Bandy in the Civil Division encouraged her to apply for a court clerk position. She applied and landed that position.

Yvonne was highly commended for creating bulk copies for the court. The D.A.’s office referred to her as the “Copy Machine Queen.” She ran, repaired, and managed the machines. She could fix and find anything they needed. When the copy machines jammed, the Copy Machine Queen would be addressed for duty to save the day.

At that time, James E. Oakley was a public defender. He would submit documents to add to files for criminal courtroom procedures. Yvonne would file stamp the documents or place them on the calendar, always closing the conversation with, “Okey Dokey Mr. Oakley. It was always her pleasure serving Madera Superior Court.

In 2003 Yvonne resigned her position with the courts in Madera and moved back to Oregon to be with her new grandchild. Three years ago, she she moved back to Madera. At the time, friends asked, “Why did you pick Madera of all places?”

For Yvonne, the answer is easy. Madera was the miracle in her struggle against an early life of unbelievable abuse. Here she learned how to be an adult, to survive as a single parent, and to get an education. By the grace of God, she learned to be a decent human being, and how to live right and be happy. She is grateful for her Madera miracle.


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